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Ayer Woman Held in Fatal Stabbing

October 2, 2018

Laqwanda Villaronga, the suspect in Friday's fatal stabbing in Ayer, is led into Ayer District Court Friday morning. sentinel & enterprise / Jeff Porter Sentinel and Enterprise staff photos can be ordered by visiting our SmugMug site.

AYER -- The 26-year-old Ayer woman charged in connection with the fatal stabbing of her cousin in Ayer on Friday was ordered held without bail Monday during her arraignment in Ayer District Court.

Laqwanda Villaronga told police that her cousin, 24-year-old Jonathan Merritt, began “poking” and “taunting” her during an argument Friday at her apartment home, according to Assistant District Attorney Suzanne Kontz.

She then picked up an 8-to-10-inch carving knife and stabbed Merritt, piercing his heart, Kontz said.

Kontz said Merritt, also of Ayer, was at Villaronga’s home to watch her children. The children were not in the apartment at the time of the stabbing.

When Villaronga returned home the cousins began doing drugs, drinking alcohol and, eventually, started arguing, according to Kontz. Villaronga called 911 after the stabbing and admitted her role to police, she said.

Emergency crews arrived on the scene at Zodiac Village Apartments on 75 Groton School Road at about 1:13 p.m. Friday. They found Merritt suffering from a stab wound to the torso, according to a press release from the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office.

Merritt was taken to Nashoba Valley Medical Center, where he later died, according to District Attorney Marian Ryan.

As the details were shared in court Monday, Villaronga started crying.

Villaronga is charged with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon causing serious bodily injury. More serious charges could be filed once an autopsy is complete, officials said.

Judge Margaret Guzman entered a not-guilty plea on Villaronga’s behalf. A dangerousness hearing in Villaronga’s case has been scheduled for Friday.

The names of Villaronga and Merritt were released Monday by the District Attorney’s Office before Villaronga’s arraignment.

Rob Fleming of Ayer described Merritt as a “joker” with a “good sense of humor.”

“He’s very outgoing and polite,” he said.

Fleming said he and both his sons were friends with Merritt, who stayed at his house during the day and often went to Villaronga’s apartment to watch her children at night.

His son, who declined to be named, said he met Merritt in middle school and they attended Ayer Shirley Regional High School together.

He said Merritt has two children.

Fleming said Merritt was looking for a job.

“I think he had a bright future ahead of him,” he said.

Follow Amaris Castillo on Twitter @AmarisCastillo. Follow Elizabeth Dobbins on Twitter @ElizDobbins.

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